Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Batman Incorporated #8 review

Twenty years ago DC Comics brought out Digital Justice, in which a computerised Batman takes on a Joker virus. Or so Wikipedia tells me - I never read the book. The Tron-like set-up, and the promise of computerised art, just put me off. I'm no fan of video games so stories centred on such realms aren't likely to grab me.

Well, here's Grant Morrison - behind a fabulous Chris Burnham cover - returning to that particular well, even naming a chapter for the earlier tale, as part of his Leviathan storyline. The crime organisation is behind a plot trapping Bruce Wayne and potential investors inside his new Internet 3.0. In technical terms, it's a virtual reality thingie.

If the billionaires' avatars are destroyed in the 'game' they pay the ultimate price. Which to this acquisitive lot isn't death, it's the loss of their fortunes. As luck and forward planning would have it, the game's designer, Oracle, is on hand to run the rescue. She cybernetically suits up as an IT Batgirl - B-I.T.girl? - and saves the day, aided by a similarly souped-up Batman simulation.

With all the talk of 'haptic interfaces' and 'mutation engines' I haven't the dongliest what's going on but writer Grant Morrison makes it sound convincing. And thanks to artists Scott Clark and Dave Beatty, the scenes of Barbara and Bruce as computer chip chiropteras look splendid, while the simulated selves of the nervous Nabobs are typically dead-looking avatars.

But I just don't care. Computerised rich people threatened by computerised criminals in a computerised world ... it's that extra remove from reality that stops me feeling anything. At one point a woman named Belle apparently turns into a dog (Sebastian?), but the point escapes me. Maybe if I bought into the Tron tropes, but I like Batman flesh and blood. My Batman is the most human of heroes, one rooted in the real world; has he learned nothing from the OMAC debacle?

I could try and make links between the mindscape here and Morrison's encounter with aliens, as detailed in his Supergods memoir, but I'm eager to move onto a comic that's perhaps a little less clever, but more human.

8 comments:

  1. Ohhhhh - what's a thick dog called, that would be me. Thanks Jude!

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  2. Joe and I JUST finished recording about this week's books, and I agree, 100%. I've really enjoyed Batman INC so far precisely because it was fun, and because Morrison didn't let himself get bogged down by forced intellectual claptrap. I love Morrison, but he's not quite as smart as he sometimes thinks he is...

    I thought the story was, overall, unoriginal, a little cliched, and more than a bit flat. The best part of the book was that it gave you the opportunity to coin B.I.T.Girl.

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  3. Great, I look forward to a listen. I like B.I.T.Girl, glad you like it. More than that, I liked last week's 'Hellfire Creche' - but no one else does!

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  4. This issue was full on Morrison strength acid. I'll give the writer the benefit of the doubt and interpret the dated computerisms as tongue-in-cheek. I liked how plot developments tied into the past Morrison Bat plots.

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  5. As a one-off, I really did like it. It did the funky thing Morrison does with weird tech speak taking the place of meta-babble. And the photo art, while something I don't care for on a regular basis, is fine to give this one issue a neat distinctive look.

    And I do own Digital Justice. The art was a gimmick, really, but it made for a good enough Elseworld.

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  6. Keith, you're dead right. Sometimes I'm just not in the mood for The Full Morrison, but I do appreciate it.

    Siskoid, ta for the DJ recommendation. Time to track it down, maybe.

    David, too right!

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